Politics in the Pulpit

People say they do not want to hear politics from the church pulpit.

And yet Jesus was crucified for political reasons.  He received the death penalty from Roman authorities for sedition.  Calling himself “Lord” was a crime against the emperor.

Following Jesus is political and it’s important to remember that:

  1. The Bible is an equal opportunity offender.
  2. Nobody has cornered the market on The Truth/God’s Will.
  3. God is certainly not on the side on any specific party.

Can we all agree that God is on the side of the poor, the imprisoned, the stranger, the sick, the hated, and every kind of person because all of us were created in the image of God?  Can we who call ourselves Christian all agree on this?

It’s not about “political correctness.”  It’s about what Jesus said.  Does anyone disagree with Jesus’ comments on “the least of these”?

What we decide to do about the poor, the imprisoned, the stranger, the sick, the hated, and all the others with whom we share a planet is where politics come into play.  Different political persuasions have different ideas about the government’s role in each of those issues.

Differing about politics is one thing.  Differing about who is created in the Image of God is another thing.

Let me try to explain.

Two male friends got married to each other in 2011 and by 2016, they had adopted a child.

It was clear that – on social media – their family and friends were supportive of their family.  People obviously love their child.  And yet many of the couple’s friends and family were planning to vote for Donald Trump who has a history of not supporting LGBTQ rights.  On social media before the 2016 election, they asked the people who love them not to vote for Donald Trump.

Their request was not about Donald Trump’s political policies on taxes or the environment or public education.

Their request was about the belief that  a vote for Donald Trump was a vote against the existence of their family.

I have another friend who is white and his spouse is a brown immigrant from Central America. He is preparing for the fact that many of his friends and colleagues plan to vote for Donald Trump again and he is hurt by this because he believes that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote against his marriage, his wife, and the existence of  his future children.  

We can disagree on politics and it’s probably healthy that we do.  And yet – if we recognize the humanity of every individual that God created as people of faith- how can we condone:

  • Any political policy that treats one skin color preferably to other skin colors?
  • Any political policy that automatically treats migrants like criminals as they are fleeing for their lives?
  • Any political policy that puts a higher tax burden on the poor than on the rich?
  • Any political policy that is indeed against human life – at all ages?
  • Any political policy that keeps the poor poor, the sick sick, and the homeless homeless?

Politicians have many ideas about how to solve the ills of the world and I personally have never found one with whom I agree 100%.  I have voted for candidates from both major parties.  What I’m looking for is a candidate who – at the very least – recognizes the sacredness of other human beings – including their political enemies.

What I’m looking for is  someone who can help me understand in a non-political way how we can elect leaders who do not acknowledge the inherent value of each person.  Again, I don’t want to pick a fight about politics here.  I just want to understand how we can continue to elect leaders who denigrate the very existence of some people and some families because of who they are.

Comments welcomed. (Thanks.)

Image source here of emergency shelter for migrants at Blessed Sacrament Church in El Paso, TX.

10 responses to “Politics in the Pulpit

  1. Absolutely! Though I can no longer separate the recognition of humanity in others from the care of the environment, so I would extend this to environmental stewardship as well. As you mention, people of good faith can disagree on how best to care for the environment, but policies that lead to excessive climate change or destruction of the environment are not an option and will disproportionately harm the poorest among us.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Every word of this is exactly what I think Jesus himself would say –and does say. Those who support trump because of the economy go against the words of the Torah, the prophets, and especially the Beatitudes, the very words of Jesus to his disciples and followers. I wish we had MORE politics from the pulpit, but if the congregation is paying attention, that is what is being preached. If they support him for other reasons besides the economy, then shame on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been accused of being too political on a regular basis. I can’t do anything about that. What I can do is make sure that when I speak I don’t mention politicians or parties but that I speak for or against policies when they speak to the flourishing (or not) of humanity. I have to be very clear that I’m saying what I’m saying because people’s lives and livelihood is at stake. But again, no politicians or political parties by name. Just what brings about humanity’s flourishing in God’s model as found in scripture and the life of Jesus.

    I would say if you do the above it is going to be faithful more times than not and get pushback almost all the time.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The issue isn’t preaching about politics as much as preaching partisan politics. Just as too many churches sound like the Republican party at prayer, too many mainline churches sound like the Democratic party at prayer. According to polling, one of the reasons the millennials stay away from church is that they want spiritual not partisan preaching. We should preach on immigration, poverty, gun control, etc. But when we become known as the religious left or religious right we have become partisan in a way that nullifies that truths of the Gospel.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marjorie Gledhill

    Trump has created a false narrative by saying over and over some of the networks generate “fake news” and social web sights also have falsely generated ads to deceive people. We need to be proactive and research things on our own. The devil is very active and loves chaos. We can pray about it but we need to do our homework. Kindness, love and peace for all is our Christian standard.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree entirely. But even when I preach as gently as possible about poverty, violence, earth care, etc., with no partisanship, people complain and even walk out. I’m dreading next fall when I have to preach the relentless texts from Matthew on justice and compassion, because I got pushback on it two years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Powerful essay, Jan! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alas, we’re an extremely tiny congregation with no resources for recording. Bealeton, Virginia.


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